My apologies that the blog has been inactive for so long! I knew that it had been a long time since I had posted, but did not realize until I logged in that it had been almost a year. Life got busy with running my private practice, preparing for a baby, and then welcoming my wonderful little guy into the world. However, things seem to have settled into a new rhythm and I sincerely hope to make more space in my life for self-care, art creation, and this blog. So, former readers – I hope you haven’t given up on me and will resume reading. New readers – the one year gap in posts should not be expected going forward.
A new baby and returning to work from maternity leave have not left a lot of time for art making in the past six months. As I have mentioned in the past, it’s a consistent goal and struggle in my life as an art therapist to make more time for my own art. Some art therapists are wonderful at this and really keep their identity as an artist integrated into their lives. I tend to need projects, community events, or classes to remind me to make art a priority. That being said, I have been lucky to participate in a few great art events over the past few months. One was an art show in Austin for members of the South Texas Art Therapy Association to display 12×12 art works. It was so fun to participate, see the beautiful art our Texas art therapists created, and raise awareness about art therapy in the community. (See our website for more information about the South Texas Art Therapy Association and our annual “Art Therapist Squared” shows.)
Another inspiring activity that I have been involved in lately is the Random Acts of Creative Kindness Project. Bethany Sweeden hosted a mental health providers networking event in which we created small artworks with positive messages that would then be left in various places for others to find. Hopefully, the art piece will bring some joy and positive energy to the recipient who finds it. And maybe they’ll then join the project. On the back of each artwork is a small message that explains that the artwork is a Random Act of Creative Kindness, and the artist and/or the recipient can post pictures on social media using the hashtags #randomactsofcreativekindness, #RACK, and #RACKproject
Bethany was inspired by Gretchen Miller’s Creative Deed 365 project. Each day in 2015, Gretchen is creating a small artwork that is then dropped off in the community to be found or gifted to someone. Check out her wonderful blog posts for more information and to see her artworks. She also has a Facebook page for others who are participating to share their artwork with each other.
Bethany also recently organized a community art booth at The Texas Farmer’s Market in Cedar Park to make and share RACK cards as an event to promote National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and art therapy. I volunteered to help and it was great to see community members making art to share with others and finding RACK cards on the art wall that spoke to them.
I look forward to seeing this project grow and spread! As Bethany explains, “The intention is that the art will inspire the person who finds it to continue spreading the creative kindness! To pay it forward with art.” And it’s a creative activity that can be adapted in various ways. I am inspired to make more RACK cards at home to share in my community. Bethany plans to have more networking events for mental health providers to connect and create cards. This could also be a great activity for a therapy group or a fun homework assignment for a client. An elementary school teacher I know is considering having her class participate. And I’m playing with the idea of setting up some art card supplies in my office waiting room for clients and their family members.
Do you want to create your own art cards to share as a Random Act of Creative Kindness? Simply create a small-ish artwork that you can then leave in your community as a gift for someone else. (If you’re feeling very ambitious, consider Gretchen’s Creative Deed 365 Project). Don’t be discouraged if you don’t think of yourself as an “artist.” Anyone can be creative, and finding a positive message is guaranteed to brighten someone’s day. Cardstock, cardboard, and repurposed coasters and playing cards all make good bases for your artwork (and you don’t need to stick to the standard dimensions of an Artist Trading Card). If you are leaving your card outdoors, consider placing it in a plastic bag for protection. You can leave an artwork anywhere! Some suggestions are parks, post office, grocery store shelf or among the produce, a waiting room, gym or yoga studio, coffee shop, restaurant, and community bulletin boards. If you want to participate in social media, take a picture of your card where you leave it and share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtags #randomactsofcreativekindness or #RACK. And if you find a card, please post that too. If you are organizing a group event to create RACK cards, considering preparing various card bases in advance, pre-printing labels for the back, and having an assortment of inspiration quotes and positive messages for participants to use.
RACK Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RACKProject
Learn more about Bethany Sweeden’s private practice: Leander Counseling and Art Therapy
Bethany’s blog: ArtHealsAustin (and ArtHeals on Facebook)
Gretchen Miller’s blog: creativity in motion
Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR is a therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, adolescent and child counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy.
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